Masculinity and Nationalism?

The recent US presidential elections demonstrated the opinions construed around masculinity and nationalism in politics. Many thought this would be the year that a female becomes president, but it is rather surprising that even fellow women did not think that Clinton had the presidential quality, something that encompassed her lack of testosterone. Many would have preferred for her to have a supporting role as it is the position that has been designated for women in politics from the onset. Despite feminist campaigns favoring Hillary Clinton, many still thought of her as weak, while Trump remained the kind of strong leader many desired for a president of the most powerful country on the planet. Some scholars argue that the same had very little to do with Trump’s political ideologies but more in relation to his image as strong, virtue of the fact that he was masculine. In a surprising twist, the much-favored Hillary Clinton did not win the election as many of the “I’m with her” movement thought. America was just not ready for a woman president and preferred the strong projection showcased by Trump who overly empathized his masculinity in the campaigns. An article in the NPR notes, “Trump has painted himself as a strong, healthy man, in contrast to Clinton, whom he said did not have a “presidential look.” Hence, even though there is no sure way to know if Hillary’s femininity played a hand in her loss, many guesses point to this fact given that she was the most favorable candidate. The same explains the rationale behind men always being at the forefront of nationalism and politics; perhaps because they carry the “look” associated with the seriousness of such aspects in the society.

As the reading points out, masculinity was woven as a requirement for politics and ideologies to do with nationalism from the 19th century movements. The same provides the example of Theodore Roosevelt who never appealed to the masses at the onset of his political career because he was regarded as a feminine-man. His weak side was showcased through the nature of his clothing, his sickliness, and high pitch voice, all of which were associated with homosexuality and thus a lack of manliness that was not fit for the nation. Perhaps the same explains why the modern society is yet to embrace a homosexual man in politics. Roosevelt had to go and reinvent himself and come back a cowboy that was appealing to many who thought he had developed a masculine backbone fit for leading the nation. The reading showcases the following quote, “We, of America, we the sons of a nations yet in the pride of its lusty youth….know its future is ours if we have the manhood to grasp it……. (Nagel, 1998)” Here, the quote makes reference to sons and nothing is forthcoming about the role women have to play in the nationalism of America. Everything in the quote is in reference to masculinity, which showcases that politics and nationalism in its mere sense has never been regarded as something in which the female gender should partake. The position of women in political leadership has received much contest even in the modern times when there are messages of equality and femininity. Many still think that women lack the presence that is attributed to nationalistic ideas, something that translates to their gender. Recent studies indicate that there is still an existent gap between the political knowledge that women have, which many think explains why masculinity is more favorable in such matters. Women are still regarded as lacking the same passion, knowledge, and capabilities that their male counterparts have in terms of leading nationalistic ideologies. Hence, a politician has to push the masculinity agenda when they want office, where they ought to appear strong, focused, and knowledgeable, just like it was the case with Donald Trump.

While there is no doubt that the modern women has evolved in their place in politics, there is still a shadow that is cast over their overall position in the society in relation to the same. Take, for instance, the recent Coca Cola advertisement showcasing the hijab and attaching it with the celebration of nationalism and diversity. There were varied critics of this advertisement. While some considered it a celebration of the Arabic nationalism and ethnicity, some saw it as a symbol of the lack of freedom and oppression that women in this parts of the world suffer, where they are not allowed to participate in anything meaningful such as politics and do not even have a choice over what they wear. The reading also explores this aspect, where it posits that in the past, the hijab was seen as a celebration of nationalism, where the Arabic world was going against Western ideals through dressing. The same was thus celebrated by women who thought they participated in the spirit of nationalism by adorning the hijab. The reading says, “Other veiled women have taken up the veil as a symbol of nationalism in anti-western, anti-imperial rebellion (Nagel, 1998).”

In this case, the author highlights that the veil as a dressing was a way in which many women participated in politics by showcasing their own rebellion against western views. However, it is worthwhile to note that western views about women encouraged freedom. They encourage women to have independence and dress in anything they wish. Hence, in a way, the women were criticizing the very values of freedom showcased through western lifestyles, which is the same argument that opponents purported in the Coca-Cola advertisement featuring the hijab. Men have long abused the same and looked at it as a form of oppression on their women, where it can be interpreted as a sign of submission. Hence, many in the modern world find it increasingly difficult to associate the hijab with nationalistic views, and still associate it with the same lack of choice that women in the Arabic world lack when it comes to politics and their social lives.

In a way, the involvement of women in nationalism may be seen as conflicting masculine values of the same, especially in the Islamic world. Take, for instance, the aspect of wives and daughters. The reading purports that they are a definition of masculine honor, and their sexuality should thus be protected. The same protection warrants the lack of freedom of expression. The ideology does not merely reflect the Islamic world but one that represents men in general. Their protective nature is supposedly meant to shield women from any harm and inhibit the exploitation of their value as they represent male honor. Hence, when women become independent and seek a position in nationalistic ideas, they are bound to compromise the values of masculine honor, which thus illustrates the conflicting position regarding giving women a chance at politics.